Knowledge is power and it is clear that information is precious and it is also clear that people are just so hungry for information. – Nafis, F 2012
The quote above shows the importance of information these days, as I insinuated in my previous posts, we live in the information or knowledge era where people seem to value it over most other things. People crave the latest news, gossip and everything that involves information, especially information technology, as it is the fastest evolving form of information in the 21st century. Information plays a big part in intellectual property,as explained below:
Intellectual property: Commodification of information as a product. – Mitew, T 2012
Due to the presence of intellectual property, there is a need for the existence of laws to protect the rights of those who own the intellectual property. These laws are known as copyright laws. The first ever appearance of copyright law was back in the year 1710, known as the Statute of Queen Anne which grants owners monopoly of the intellectual property for 14 years after its publication. More than 150 years later, in the year 1886 there was the Berne Convention which granted monopoly over intellectual property for at least 50 years after its publication (Mitew 2012). Ever since, there has been a massive amount of innovation which contributed to the birth and development of technology, as well as the Internet, thanks to all the innovators out there.
Copyright is needed to reward the best director, author, etc., but again its becoming difficult to define it because its not clear as to who owns what. – Nafis, F 2012
Now, there are various forms of copyright law due to the Internet and technology resulting in digital property which makes it much easier for the infringement of copyright and much more difficult to control the distribution rights of any form of intellectual property. Modern copyright laws include the Digital Rights Management (DRM) (Mitew 2012) which allows control over access to content . An example of this is Apple’s iTunes store where songs, music videos and movies must be paid for in order to listen to or watch. A copyright law that strengthens this is the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) enacted in 1998 which makes circumventing the Digital Rights Management (DRM) a criminal offence (Mitew 2012).
These are few of the copyright laws which help protect intellectual property nowadays even though there are loopholes such as the Internet. The laws are a huge help in protecting intellectual property though it may not be bulletproof. Another form of copyright is the End User Licence Agreement (EULA) (Mitew 2012) which is a binding legal contract expanding control beyond standard copyright .This is because one has to agree to the End User Licence Agreement (EULA) before being able to utilize the software. For example, it appears when playing an online game and a gamer would have to click ‘Agree’ in order to play the game. This also means that at the end of the day, people have permission to play the game but not own it. However, it is difficult to uphold these laws, as in the case of Time Warner Corporation owning the rights to the song “Happy Birthday To You” (Mitew 2012), which is sung by people everywhere nowadays, supposedly ‘illegally’.
These are just a few examples of copyright laws, as there are many more out there. These laws make it much more difficult for us to access intellectual property, however modern technology has made it so much easier for us to gain access, although the access gained is, most times not necessarily legal. It is important to have copyright laws, but the distribution of intellectual property can never be completely controlled. As in the case of Apple iPhones, if one ‘jailbreaks’ the phone, it is illegal but allows the user free access to the applications that are offered by Apple for iPhones.
Here is an interesting video I would like to share, showing an example of how intellectual property is protected or claimed in the Science industry:
It is something that companies can make a lot of money off. – Nafis, F 2012
Nafis, F 2012, Copyright, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 10 September.
Mitew, T 2012, DIGC202 Intellectual Property and Content Control, lecture notes, accessed 25/10/2006, http://prezi.com/bm5k4k0atb2g/digc202-intellectual-property-and-content-control/
ThomsonReutersCorp 2012, Thomson Reuters Intellectual Property and Science – The Innovation Lifecycle, accessed 14/9/2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibfrzjb_fB0.